If you have not done so, you might want to check out Facebook community, Alcohol Free Kg Glam Conservation Area.
For the local Arab and Malay Muslim community who have longed for the ban of alcohol in the vicinity of Kg Glam, this is the page where you can be heard and where you can obtain latest updates on the matter. The more ‘likes’ the page receives, the more the relevant authorities will have to listen to our voices. Isn’t this the hallmark of a more consultative government that PAP aspires to be?
Politics aside, this is a serious matter which has been brought up and championed by numerous individuals such as Habib Alwi Al Habshi and Dr Ameen Talib, the owner of Cafe Le Caire. Despite their best efforts, there has yet to be a satisfactory response from the authorities.
Alcohol has never been a part of Kg Glam’s heritage. It should not be part of its future. There are many examples of alcohol-free zones around the world, including in Western countries like Australia and the UK. Here, the authorities have also acted to enforce an alcohol-free zone in Little India following the riots. They have also acted to weed out sleazy activities and booze in Joo Chiat and Clarke Quay after much lobbying by the residents.
So why not in Kg Glam? Today, people drink alcohol openly without any regard for the majestic place of worship that anchors the area, Masjid Sultan. Some blatantly consume alcohol even in front of ‘halal’ banners in the area.
This is a man-made situation. It was never this way. A reminder of what Kg Glam used to be, taken from URA’s own website (www.ura.gov.sg/uol/conservation/conservation-xml.aspx?id=KPGL).
Kampong Glam probably derived its present name from the gelam tree. The bark of the gelam tree was used by the Orang Laut to make awnings and sails. Its timber was often used for constructing boats and also served as firewood. Its fruit was ground and used as pepper – mercha bolong; and its leaves boiled and concocted into the Cajeput oil, a medication for rheumatism and cramps.
The area is well known for two major landmarks: Sultan Mosque, Singapore’s most important mosque, and the Istana Kampung Gelam, the former Sultan’s palace. Aside from the Sultan’s family, residents of the area included the Arabs, Boyanese, Bugis and Javanese, and by 1824, at least 1/3 of the residents were Chinese.
Different streets were settled by Muslims from different parts of South-East-Asia. Other major community and religious landmarks are the Hajjah Fatimah Mosque (National Monument), the Malabar Mosque and the Madrassah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah.
The commercial landscape of Kampong Glam was characterised by many traditional businesses that catered to the Malay/Muslim community and beyond: frame makers, tombstone carvers, textile wholesalers, spice traders and perfumers, sandal makers, Muslim food caterers, and retailers of gemstones, rattan handicraft and religious paraphernalia.
Many streets also had their own unique trades. North Bridge Road was known for many tailors and Chinese-run goldsmith shops. Sultan Gate used to be dominated by stone masons and blacksmiths. The Beach Road waterfront before reclamation was the focal point of trading and shipping services that thrived on the arrival of Bugis ships and traders. Haji Lane, named after the ‘Hajj’ – which is the pilgrimage undertaken by Muslims to Mecca and Medina, and the stretch of Bussorah Street nearer to Sultan Mosque were residences and also centres for pilgrimage services, serving Muslim pilgrims from around the region.
Kampong Glam was also a centre for publications dealing with Islamic and Malay literature, and education for the Muslim community. Madrassahs, educational institutions based on Islamic principles were set up. One such institution is the Madrassah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah.
Kampong Glam has a rich history which should be acknowledged by the authorities. This is how we want to remember Kg Glam.
Not like this.
So friends, please do your part to ‘like’ the page. Share it with your friends and family and encourage them to ‘like’ the page too.
Contributor: Aku Tak Mau Glam-our